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2009 IMG World Sports Congress

Miami anyone? One of the best sports conferences of the year, at least from a networking standpoint, is scheduled to kick off this week when the 2009 IMG World Congress of Sports begins a two day whirl-wind of speakers, events and networking at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami, Florida. I have attended this conference in the past and there’s no shortage of networking and deal making opportunities.

Rapid-Fire Roundtable: Thought Leaders Examine the Headlines of the Day and an Industry in Flux 
one of the first sessions features these sports business leaders Gary Bettman, Commissioner, NHL; Brian France, Chairman & CEO, NASCAR; Tim Leiweke, President & CEO, AEG; Alonzo Mourning, Founder, Alonzo Mourning Charities; Kevin Plank, CEO & Founder, Under Armour; and George Pyne, President, IMG Sports and Entertainment.

An impressive roster.

Joe Gibbs, the three time Super Bowl winning coach of the Washington Redskins, will deliver a keynote address that reflects on his career in sports, examines his keys to success and provides his views on the future of sports business.

Here is a selection of a few other sports titans expected to participate in the two-day seminar, starting April 1. This is no April fool’s day joke.

Jim Bankoff, Chairman & CEO, SB Nation

David Berson, Executive VP, Program Planning & Strategy, ESPN

Michael Fanuele, Managing Director, Strategy, Euro RSCG

Peter Foss, President, Olympic Sponsorship & Corporate Sales, GE

Don Garber, Commissioner, MLS

Ross Greenburg, President, HBO Sports

Wyc Grousbeck, Managing Partner, Governor & CEO, Boston Celtics

Jeremy Jacobs, Owner, Boston Bruins; Chairman & CEO, Delaware North Cos.; Chairman, NHL Board of Governors

Ted Leonsis, Chairman & Majority Owner, Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and Lincoln Holdings

David Levy, President, Turner Sports

Mike Levy, Chairman & CEO, OPEN Sports

Jon Litner, President, Comcast Sports Group

Michael Lynch, Head of Global Sponsorship Management, Visa

Jamie McCourt, Vice Chairman & President, Los Angeles Dodgers

Peter Moore, President, EA Sports

Dave Panos, CEO & Co-Founder, Pluck

Beatriz Perez, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing, N.A., Coca-Cola

George Pyne, President, IMG Sports and Entertainment

Tim Schoen, VP, Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Anheuser-Busch

Joe Steranka, CEO, The PGA of America

Remember, this is just a selection of names.

Credit IMG. This annual conference is not held at the same place every year. In fact, in 2008 IMG staged the two day event at the St. Regis resort in Southern California where some 500 executives showed up for the seventh installation of this annual event. Highlights included a one-on-one interview with DirecTV head Chase Carey and a keynote address from U.S. Olympic Committee chairman, former MLB commissioner Peter Ueberroth.

Positives: You will never be around more heavy hitters in the sports business at one single event.

Negatives: The cost is a bit prohibitive. Cost to register for the event alone is $1,850, and if you are a paid subscriber to the Sports Business Journal, the price is reduced to $1,695. For two days in this economy, it is a bit steep.

Last: I love how the event is scheduled to end, Florida style. In keeping with the South Florida’s theme the final act will be a beach volleyball tournament hosted by AVP. The Pro-Am will take place on the beach at the host hotel immediately following lunch on April 2nd, and will feature AVP pros and special guests. Attendees are invited to not only enjoy the festivities while networking with their peers, but they’ll also have a chance to test their volleyball skills. What a great mixer for all and a nice touch to involve the AVP.

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